Program Recognizing the Nation's Most Innovative and Effective School District Leaders Celebrates 10th Class
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 8:00 AM EST

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Education Week, the premier national news organization covering K-12 education, has announced its 10th class of Leaders To Learn From—releasing profiles of 11 outstanding school district leaders. The honorees were selected for their innovative and effective leadership of the nation's schools.

Education Week Announces 2022 District Leaders To Learn From Honorees
Education Week Announces 2022 District Leaders To Learn From Honorees(PRNewswire)
EdWeek Program Recognizing the Nation's Most Innovative and Effective School District Leaders Celebrates 10th Class

In Hartford, Conn., Leslie Torres-Rodriguez and Madeline Negrón managed to reconnect more than 2,000 students who were missing at the beginning of the school year. Through dedicated, painstaking efforts, including hundreds of phone calls and home visits, the leaders slashed that number down to 50 by the end of the semester. Many of those students can now attend a Saturday Academy to help them get back on track.

Portland, Ore.'s Marifer Sager has transformed the district's language-translation offerings so that parents who don't speak English receive more timely and accessible information. And she's created new tools for them to learn about the special education and mental-health services available to their children.

In rural Arkansas, Susan Gilley's innovative mobile classroom and library—a 21st century take on the bookmobile—provided lessons and enrichment to far-flung families. Her counterpart in the New York City library system, Melissa Jacobs, created a digital repository of more than 20,000 books for children and has developed a guide for using digital tools that's being used by media specialists as far away as New Zealand.

"This year's honorees are the epitome of resilience," said Education Week President & CEO Michele Givens. 'They have overcome myriad challenges to support students who have disconnected from learning, engage families in children's education, and respond to students' mental health needs."

The 2022 Leaders To Learn From are:

  • Susan Gilley, executive director of federal programs and instructional technology, Harrison Public Schools, Harrison, Ark.
  • Andrew G. Houlihan, superintendent, and Casey Rimmer, director, education technology and innovation, Union County Public Schools, Monroe, N.C.
  • Melissa Jacobs, director of school library services, New York City Department of Education.
  • Jenna Monley, deputy chief of family and community engagement, The School District of Philadelphia.
  • Derek Richey, chief financial officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
  • Marifer Sager, senior manager, language access services, Portland Public Schools, Portland, Ore.
  • Ben Thigpen, superintendent, Jones County Public Schools, Trenton, N.C.
  • Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, superintendent, and Madeline Negrón, chief of academics, teaching, learning, and student supports, Hartford Public Schools, Hartford, Conn.
  • Lateshia Woodley, assistant superintendent of student support, Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City, Mo.

The honorees were chosen from among nearly 350 nominees submitted by readers, journalists, school administrator groups, and experts in the K-12 field.

The 2022 Leaders will be invited to share their successful strategies as part of Education Week's Leadership Symposium, May 9-11. During this virtual event, Education Week will convene district leaders and educators from across the country to trade ideas and best practices to apply in their schools and districts.

Learn more about these standout educators by visiting You can also nominate a Leader to Learn From for 2023.

Launched in 2013, Leaders To Learn From is Education Week's marquee solutions journalism project. It is the only district recognition program run by a news organization, and recognizes all levels of district leadership: superintendents, food-service leaders, student services coordinators, counseling staff, budget officers, and transportation and facilities managers, among others.

Since 1981, the nonprofit news organization Editorial Projects in Education has published Education Week and its high-quality reporting and analysis on K-12 education. Our aim: to inspire and empower educators and the public to create an excellent education for all students. For more information, visit

Contact: Stephen Sawchuk,
(301) 280-3129

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